John and Jane Doe are a retired couple living in Pensacola, Florida. Their income is limited to social security of approximately $1,400 per month plus $400 in retirement income. They have $25,000 in credit card debt and the minimum payments on these cards are $450 per month. In addition, their car payment is $250 per month and rent is $800 per month. After the Does pay rent and car payment they have $750 per month left to pay everyday expenses. This includes utilities, food, medical, insurance, and clothes. This is barely enough to pay reasonable living expenses and the Does have been using credit cards to pay every day expenses and have been making $450 minimum credit card payments. The Does came into visit Lewis & Jurnovoy, PA on a free appointment to discuss their options
While the Does felt they were the only seniors struggling with their finances they are not alone. Seniors all over the country are struggling with finances. Every day I see senior citizens in my offices in Pensacola, Fort Walton, Panama City and Crestview drowning in debt. The seniors are foregoing necessary doctor appointments and medicines because they are attempting to pay credit card bills. These financial struggles create significant stress and are hard to overcome. Why is this happening?
- Credit Cards. Seniors are carrying more credit card debt into retirement. The credit card debt becomes more difficult to pay when your income is reduced in retirement. At the same time seniors may be using the credit cards to finance daily living expenses and thus increasing card balances.
- Medical Expenses. It’s inevitable. As we get older our bodies break down and we need more medical care. In today's environment of big deductibles and limited health insurance many people put medical bills on credit cards. This creates more debt and higher monthly payments which many seniors cannot handle.
- Helping Family Members. If you are like the rest of us, someone in your family always needs financial assistance and its natural to want to help. However, by helping family members it often creates situations where you run out of money by the end of the month and need to use credit cards to pay for your bills.
- Student Loans. Student loans do not disappear. Many seniors are still paying their student loans as they retire or are responsible for family members student loans.
What can be done to help our senior population? For those seniors who are fortunate enough to be able to pay their living expenses plus have funds left over to repay creditors, the following options are available:
- Better budgeting and elimination of unnecessary living expenses
- Negotiate with credit card companies for lower payments
- Credit Counseling
- Chapter 13 debt consolidation bankruptcy.
If we can help restructure your budget using these options that's a great result. However, most seniors, like the Does, need every penny to pay their basic living expenses. They should not be paying credit card balances when they have trouble paying for food and medical expenses. For these seniors, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate the credit card debt, medical bills, signature loans, pay day and internet loans and repossessions. Absent credit card payments, these seniors can now afford some or all of their basic living expenses.
Lewis & Jurnovoy, PA is here to help you and your family find solutions to your financial problems. Please give us a call to set up a free appointment in any of our convenient offices in Pensacola, Fort Walton, Crestview and Panama City.